Customer Reviews: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength
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on December 29, 2011
If you're reading this I guess is because you have an interest in bodyweight training, at the moment this is the one stop book on upper body strength training, period.

Though, bare in mind it's not everything bodyweight, it focuses solely on upper body strength development in a gymnast's way, it's not a gymnastic skills manual (no cartwheels, swings, shoulder inlocates and the likes) it's not about conditioning, it's not about GPP (general physical preparedness), it's not about plyometrics or anything else. Now, don't get me wrong, this book is for EVERYONE, it teaches you how to develop ridiculous amounts of strength, all the way to iron cross, planche and more. You decide how far to go in your journey, it provides you the knowledge for such amazing goals.

The fact the author has personally answered all questions on [...] forum shows you how he keeps his feet on the ground. There's no hype. He doesn't try to sell you anything, he's just so passionate about the subject to feel the urge to share it.

I'd rate the book 9.5 out of 10 just because being self edited and published leaves some room for improvements, in particular for the visual appealing and layout. I'm pretty sure it will easily become a best seller in the hands of a publisher like Human Kinetics.

As others have said before me you will end up comparing his work with the few other books available on bodyweigth training.

The following rating is based on the fact that Overcoming Gravity has set the standard.

Naked warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline. 2.0 don't even bother with this one, more hype than contents. 2 exercise progressions in it. (one arm push-up and one leg squat)

Convict conditioning by Paul Wade. 3.5 catchy book laid out very well though not very extensive or sensible. 6 exercise progressions, one progression is far too easy and another one is only hypothetical, 4 are about unilateral development (one arm or one leg).

Never gymless by Ross Enamait. 7.0 it delivers what promises, doesn't leave you with a single excuse not to pursue a superior conditioning. Best book for an all around bodyweight fitness plan (very underground and tough). Warmly suggested.

Building the gymnastic bodies by Christopher Sommer. 5.0 One of those books that intrigues you but doesn't want to teach you. It purposefully leaves you baffled and unable to progress efficiently as you have to wait for future releases, attend very expensive top secret seminars or spend countless hours on the forum to get a grasp of only what people are allowed to disclose under the author supervision. Maybe in ten years when all his material will be eventually released and you'll have spent quite a fortune collecting it you may end up with the kind of understanding that Overcoming gravity is trying to pass you.

Alberto Giuliani
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on February 12, 2012
I have been a long time follower of Steven Low's blog [...] and an avid student of gymnastics and bodyweight training. My favorite thing about the book is the progressions. Often times I find that many other authors have progressions that are too fast or difficult to follow. But in Overcoming Gravity, the progressions are in much smaller steps which allows for the reader to pick up at his or her ability easily and immediately begin developing their strength. This book does not require that you must already have a foundation in gymnastics or bodyweight training which makes it a fantastic resource for beginners, but beyond that, it's also an amazing resource for even advanced gymnasts as the progressions continue on to even the most demanding movements like inverted crosses or elevators.

Overall, it is a plethora of information, almost too much information to retain from a single reading. But that shouldn't stop you from using it as a reference tool. If you're debating between buying Overcoming Gravity and Building the Gymnastic Body, Overcoming Gravity is the definite winner. It is more in depth, more complete, and easier to follow as well as actually implement. I started playing around with the various progressions the first day the book arrived. My brother started following the planche progressions the week after Christmas, and he's already close to holding a straddle planche in less than 2 months. If you purchased Building the Gymnastic Body and felt you were left hanging by the lack of programming discussion, this is your solution as well.

Steven Low does an excellent job of thoroughly covering programming to the point where you can build your own routine without requiring the assistance of a coach. The book covers so much ground it's remarkable. There is physiology, injury prevention, injury rehab, skill development, program design, nutrition, lifestyle, and so much more. This book is probably the best book on fitness and health that I have read in the past year, maybe even longer. Definitely something you'll want to add to your collection.
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on March 1, 2014
I train using gymnast rings and bodyweight, and this book seemed to be a dream come true. While I have made good progress, I wanted a systematic approach to transition to harder moves.

The good: lots of useful information. I must say that I didn't learn a huge amount, but that's mostly because I have already read a whole lot on strength training and bodyweight exercises. I found the chapters on programming useful (Chapters 8 and 9), the progression charts useful, and most of the exercise descriptions in the appendix. For these, it is arguably worth purchasing.

The bad: horribly written and edited. If you are someone that is bothered or distracted by poor writing, this book will drive you nuts. Sentence structures are horrible, the writing is meandering, and there are embarrassing amounts of grammatical errors. It reads like a first version of a manuscript. I don't understand why the author (or an editor) didn't do a one time read-through and fix these errors.

At first glance, it appears encyclopedic in size, but upon reading it you see it is just poorly edited and could easily be half the length.

So, to sum, the author clearly has some valuable information to give the readers. If this was a $4.99 Kindle ebook, I'd be more wiling to overlook the shortcomings. But for nearly $50, I expect a book to be edited and (mostly) error-free.
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on December 9, 2011
Overcoming Gravity is a veritable compendium of information on how to improve in bodyweight strength and mobility from the level of complete novice through expert. Mr. Low is well versed in the fields of exercise science and kinesiology, and he applies this knowledge towards a greater understanding of the process of bodyweight exercise. This book will give you a solid foundation on how to build your own gymnastic or bodyweight strength routine: How many days a week to train, which exercises to choose, how to do those exercises, how many reps, how many sets, etc. The book also contains impressive chapters on common injuries, how to rehabilitate, and how to prevent in the first place. Mr Low might not be the coach of national champion athletes, but he has a deep understanding of the subject and the knowledge and language to explain the how and why of it all to the layperson. I highly recommend this book to any person looking to advance in bodyweight exercise strength and skills.
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on April 2, 2012
If you are interested in bodyweight training, gymnastic moves or training theory - buy this book.

Over the years, I've read a lot of exercise literature and I have lifted a lot of weights. I study the human body too, so I'm well above averagely interested in how the body responds to training.

This book is literally a groundbreaker and it will become a classic. It opened my eyes to new concepts and I would compare the impact it's had on me to that of great books like Starting Strength and Stretching Scientifically. The theory is laid out in a way that is more accessible than in both of these other two books, but a lot of the concepts presented here are "newer" in a sense. They have been around for a long time, but it's likely that many people have never heard of them. So if you are interested in the theory, it's an interesting read for sure. Since Steven is a physiotherapy student in addition to being a former gymnast, there is a lot of focus on injury pre-/rehabilitation as well. And that's a welcome resource to have, since this type of training is very hard on the body if done excessively. The author is not very conservative either, and is constantly keeping up to date on research and developments in this field of science. So it's quite cutting edge and not very dogmatic.

About the book itself, I would say that the layout and wrapping is quite simplistic. There are quite a few typos here and there. I wouldn't get caught up in that, this is the first edition and it is not a coffeetable book. What it is, is a tome of knowledge that contains everything you need to know to get into serious bodyweight training in addition to the basic concepts of training that can be applied to weightlifting as well. When I say tome, I mean that it is over 500 pages and quite sizeable. It's a book that deserves to be bent, ruffled, stained with sweat, blood and chalk before finally put into your bookshelf after reading and rereading. It's meant to be used along with your training. So even though it could look more glossy and fancy, this is a 5-star book, don't let appearances deceive you.

As mentioned, there is training theory, how you would go about setting up a program, then a large section on injuries and how to prevent them and get back from them, a section on paleo nutrition, followed by descriptions of hundreds of exercises and finally tables showing you how the exercises relate to each other and summing up program construction from the early chapters.

This kind of training is for you if you are into Crossfit, want to do something more "functional" than lifting weights, want to go for that dense gymnast look, want to mix up weightlifting with bodyweight movements to improve your fitness in a more full spectrum or if you are into other sports where you rely on being able to move your body with great strength and awareness, like martial arts, climbing, dancing, parkour or other contact/combat sports.

This type of training is very much upper-body oriented, in fact the author recommends using weights to strengthen the lower body, especially with squats and deadlifts. You will not find descriptions of how to do this though, but you can find that in other books: Starting Strength and Olympic Weightlifting being solid choices. There are options for bodyweight legwork even if it is not mentioned here: shrimp squats, pistols and GHR being most notable. You will need to develop a lot of flexibility to succeed as well. It's a humbling start, even if you are athletic and strong. But by manipulating leverage and making the same kind of exercise progressively harder, you can use variations on excellent exercises like the push-up - that normally suffers from not being able to be weighted down well enough to be used for building strength. It's very heavy, comparable more to powerlifting than the bodybuilding type of weightlifting, although by manipulating leverage, time, sets and reps you can shift more towards hypertrophy if you want to. The jumps in difficulty between progressions sometimes feel like you are going from a 150 pound squat to a 250 pound squat, so it takes perseverance and determination to succeed. But why do regular push-ups if you can do handstand push-ups instead?

If you have access to a gym and you are in decent physical shape, that is optimal. But if not, you can find a good starting point in this book anyway. It is written for both novices and intermediates. You really don't need any equipment for this, but I warmly recommend getting a set of gymnastic rings from Gymnastic bodies or Rogue fitness, a block of climbing chalk, a theraband and maybe a weighted vest. Then there will be no limit to what you can do, wherever you are. Youtube has no end of exercise demonstrations performed with various levels of success if you need extra visualization in addition to the exercise descriptions in the book.

Compared to Building the Gymnastic Body - one of the very few alternatives if you want to get into this kind of training - I'd say OG is better. BtGB is a very good book as well, and the descriptions of the exercises there are nice, but it lacks the info on how to actually set up your training program and troubleshoot it so you can start out from scratch. Overcoming Gravity is very focused on this and therefore it is a much better way to start bodyweight training, in my opinion. If you are a bodybuilder or pure powerlifter, there are certainly better books for that, but if you are a mixed athlete or into the sports previously mentioned, this book will show you new ways of developing your fitness.
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on January 12, 2012
Just in the first few pages of this book, it becomes clear that Steven is very unlike most high profile fitness celebrities and trainers these days. Instead of spoon feeding you specific routines and goals, he gives you the tools and information necessary to establish your own goals, build your own workout regimen, and actually learn something in the process. The book guides you from complete basics in each movement to advanced level, all with detailed information on progressing through a variety of different methods. Whether you're an experienced athlete, just beginning, 120 pounds or 250 pounds, Steven's clear and informative writing will help you build incredible strength, while understanding a lot more about your body and how it works. Beyond the actual workouts, he goes into great detail about preventing and treating injuries, as well as really great mobility and flexibility information whose application extends far beyond the scope of gymnastics into all areas of physical health and fitness.

I spent three months following a workout I designed from reading The Gymnastic Body by Chris Sommer, and never really felt like I understand why I was doing certain things, or how to push through plateaus. Don't get me wrong, Chris Sommer is clearly an immensely talented and knowledgeable gymnastics coach, but his book left a lot to be desired. After reading through Overcoming Gravity, I built a routine that I not only have been enjoying and progressing with, but I also understand the hows and whys, and feel confident that I can reach the goals I set for myself. The book is worth every penny, and is absolutely indispensable for anyone interested in gymnastics, calisthenics, and impressive feats of strength. Steven knows his stuff, and the proof is in the writing.
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on June 16, 2012
Extremely good information. There are very few books out there that concentrate on Bodyweight training (such as Raising the Bar by Al Kavadlo, the Convict Conditioning series, and The Naked Warrior by Pavel), but these for the most part are extremely limited because they do not attempt to add gymnastic training into the workout routines (as much more experience is required).

The most notable example is Building the Gymnastic Body (which is extremely lacking in the prehab-rehab department... something that would be expanded on in another book that has been on work for the past 4 years or so). However, this book brings it all, integrating all the major static positions with concise, focused progressions, many pages devoted to routine construction (whereas most BW books will only throw a few pages), and many more on the flexbility/prehab.

While the author attempts to appeal to novices for the most part, this is extremely difficult to do with a gymnastics book as even the easiest exercises can be pretty difficult. Thus, if one is looking to start a workout routine after years of no activity, perhaps this is not the best choice off the bat. It's definitely a better choice for non-active individuals than Building the Gymnastic Body, but exercises such as Push-ups, Pull-ups and Dips are NOT the main focus of the book and they are indeed where most people should start. Pages are devoted to such exercises, but not as many as other books like Never Gymless do.

However, for those that have trained with other methods (such as barbells), have trained with other sports, or are looking to step up their training, this book is invaluable. Make it a priority.
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on July 29, 2012
The book has some useful information, but it is buried under some really bad writing/editing. The poor presentation makes the book really hard to read. For example on page 109 the author writes "In conclusion, do make things too complicated." when he is trying to describe how to keep programming simple. The entire book is littered with the same type of mistakes and reads like it was written by a high school kid. An updated edition professionally written with real pictures instead of the stick figures could bring the book to a 5 star rating.
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on March 12, 2012
Before I give my opinion, a little apologize if I wrote something that is not correct because english is not my native language.
I will try to explain why I give 5 stars to this book, and I will also try to be objective.
First, I give this rating compare this book vs other bodyweight strength based books, and not because Overcoming gravity is a perfect book from different points of view, but that observation we can apply to any book.

Interesting enough, it seems that books about bodyweight strength always have lots of attention, and audience always want more about that topic.
There are lots of bodyweight strength based books, but the most popular is Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline , Never Gymless by Ross Enamait, Convict Conditioning 1,2 by Paul Wade, Building gymnastic bodies from Coach Sommer, etc. Every one of this books have specific philosophy that comes from author, they are motivated and interesting, and have progressions for most popular exercises.

Why this book Overcoming Gravity is different, and what to expect ?

Compare to most other books, this book share the knowledge and specificity with book Building the gymnastic bodies, and this is about gymnastics exercises not only for gymnast, but for any fitness enthusiast and everyone no matter age, to improve strength in a way they never do before, and learn some specific gymnastic skills. But here is the catch. Compare to basic only exercises like pushups, squats etc., this road is very hard to accomplish, and progressive exercises from pushups to planche pushups for example is not that easy, and for most people does not yield results they expected, or the process is very slow, not to mention injuries. When people start to complain about that, on the surface comes information about preparation, rehabilitation, properly programming, and some prerequisites that you must learn first, and lots of other stuff that you can read in forums, but it is very time consuming to close that puzzle, so we want this in one place, or at least most of it.

Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low comes in the game with that thing in mind. Coach Sommer start the revolution, his book is ok, but he missed this,(ok, this is first book, he said there will be second edition), and suddenly this book comes out, and bring the light. The question is : Is it enough ? It will never be when it comes to training and skills, so relax, don't expect perfection. This book is huge. Steven Low try to incorporate lots of informations, and it is obvious that he put lots of effort and heart into this book. Almost everything is here, preparation, rehabilitation, charts to find where you are, tables about how many reps, sets for concentric, eccentric, isometric work, but the most important this book will teach you how to properly put together exercise programs, and what to include based on your goals, and also many and the most popular exercises and explanation on how and when to progress. For every topic in this book, it is possible to write another book based only on that topic. This is also advantage and fault at the same time, because there will always be people who can tell that one book that combine so many things and informations at the end fall short. I dont care, there is no perfection. We all want that in one place, so here it is. At the moment you will not find not even close that kind of information in other strength based books. Because of this, Overcoming gravity is the best at the moment.
My reward to Mr Steven Low, and full recommendation for this book.
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on March 19, 2012
I'm a martial artist and pro dancer in Italy i needed something to spice up my dancing moves and stay fit, i thought gymnastics will be perfect, i bought all the books on gymnastic i could find, and "overcoming gravity" is way better than the other: the "convict conditioning" approach is too weak: little progression and lots of hype this is a common denominator in this kind of books even "never gymless" or "building the gymnastic body" or "the naked warrior" all this books seem to reveal part of a secret path to super strenght but they miss to describe the DETAILS the leave so many things vague to have the chance for another book...Overcoming Gravity is not smart cause he talks about everything you need to build a routine that suit your need leaving no place for other book, the author could have followed the trend to inform a little gaining a lot but he didn't.
This book is like a personal trainer and I would have payed gladly 5 times his price to have it.. and the bigger surprise is that at the site[...]you can talk directly with the author,i posted my routine there and after 3 hours he gave me lots of pointer on my first routine and he answered me on facebook 10 minutes ago answering on line at a lot of questions, trust me this Steven Low guy is a rare exception: he really want you to improve....I hope this book will became the "Bibble" of bodyweight training, cause the content is comprehensive and leave just a few questions to the reader that can easily ask the author in his site.
The only problem that the author will have in the future will be that it will be very difficult to make a book better than this one.there are a couple of typos but no one is perfect(sorry for my english i know is terrible) I never do reviews but i had to do this one cause the author really deserve it.
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